December 2018

OCWD Board Members


Vicente Sarmiento, Esq.

First Vice President

Cathy Green

Second Vice President

Stephen R. Sheldon

Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Jordan Brandman
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, C.E.G., C.H.
Tri Ta
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.

General Manager

Michael R. Markus

In This Issue:

President’s Message—Employee Acknowledgement

I’d like to close the year recognizing the accomplishments of our Orange County Water District employees through the agency’s numerous awards—182 since 1975 and 12 just this past year.

Yes, the Groundwater Replenishment System receives a large number of the total awards we receive. But we sometimes need to remind ourselves that it took, and it takes, people to conceive, design, engineer, run, and modify it.

Being recognized as the world’s largest advanced water purification project for potable reuse distinguishes not only the agency, but it underscores the ingenious minds of its employees and the sage support and guidance of its board.

There are a number of other awards and categories that illustrate the purpose and work ethic of our OCWD family—several related to our environmental and economic leadership, others for engineering and research and development achievements, still others for our exceptional education programs such as the Children’s Water Education Festival, the H2O Learning Center and the recent GWRS Bottled Water Campaign. Read More…

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Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.




New Executive Officers Chosen and OCWD Board Welcomes Back Director Jordan Brandman

At yesterday’s board of directors meeting, the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) 10-member board elected Vicente Sarmiento to serve as the 2019 board president, and Cathy Green and Stephen R. Sheldon to serve as first and second vice president, respectively. The board will lead the District in fulfilling its mission to protect and manage the Orange County Groundwater Basin, which provides water to 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County.

President Sarmiento represents division 8, which includes the city of Santa Ana. He previously served on the OCWD board from January 2013 to February 2015 and was reappointed in December 2016. Currently serving his third term on the Santa Ana City Council, he was first appointed to the council in January 2007 and served as mayor pro tempore from 2014 to 2016. President Sarmiento graduated from the University of Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and received his Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. He and his family have lived in and around Santa Ana since 1965 and he currently resides in the city with his wife and three children. Read More...

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OCWD Welcomes Newly Re-Elected Director Kelly Rowe

Newly re-elected Orange County Water District (OCWD, the District) Director Kelly Rowe, CFM, PG, CEG, CH, was sworn into office Friday, December 7. After an 18-year hiatus, Director Rowe was re-elected on November 6 to the 10-member OCWD board to represent Division 7, which includes Costa Mesa and part of Fountain Valley, Irvine, Newport Beach, and Tustin.

“I am honored to return to serve the constituents of Division 7 and to be a part of an organization that is recognized as a global leader in groundwater management and water reuse,” said Rowe. “Since 1933, OCWD has helped bring water reliability to the region. I look forward to return to work with staff and my fellow directors to implement our projects that continue this important legacy,” he added.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to welcome Kelly back to the board,” said OCWD Board President Denis Bilodeau. “Kelly previously served on the board from 1998-2001 and worked as a project manager for OCWD from 1996-1998 to develop and oversee the first major repairs to OCWD’s important seawater intrusion barrier injection wells. His prior knowledge and experience will serve him well as we work together to provide a reliable water supply to more than 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County.” Read More…

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OCWD Receives Huell Howser Best in Blue Award for Communications Excellence

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; District) was honored with the 2018 Huell Howser Best in Blue Award from the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) for the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Bottled Water Campaign. The award was presented at the annual ACWA Fall Conference, which took place in San Diego, Calif.

The Huell Howser Best in Blue Award recognizes outstanding achievements by public water agencies in communicating with customers, legislators, media, the public, and others. The award is named in honor of Huell Howser the television personality best known for his series “California Gold,” which explored the natural, cultural and historical features of California.          

“This is a special honor for us because Huell Howser put the Groundwater Replenishment System on the map,” stated OCWD Board Member Cathy Green. “He came to the Fountain Valley facility when it was in demonstration mode, spent an entire day exploring all that was involved in making high-quality purified water from wastewater, and he drank the product water on camera ending with a hearty ‘Oh Boy’ of approval. Having such a prestigious, well-liked and trusted personality, as Huell was, went far to give our project a stamp of approval.” Read More…

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OC Water Summit Save the Date

Water issues are making a great impact on households and businesses across nations, here and abroad. The 12th Annual OC Water Summit, titled Under the Microscope, focuses on the many facets of water management and takes a closer look at the challenges and competing interests shaping local, state, national, and international water supplies.

Mark your calendar to join nearly 400 business professionals, elected officials, water industry experts, and scholars for the OC Water Summit, which will take place on Friday, May 31, 2019 at the Grand Californian Resort and Spa at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

Registration will begin online in January. To view last year's program, visit

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Crystal Nettles (714) 378-3202, or Tiffany Baca (714) 593-5013,

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Volunteer for the Children's Water Education Festival

The Children’s Water Education Festival will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, March 27 and 28, 2019 on the campus of UC Irvine. We need hundreds of volunteers, at least 18 years of age, for a variety of positions, such as activity aides at outdoor classrooms, as festival guides, and as registration attendants. If you are a behind-the-scenes type of person, volunteer shifts are also available on set up day, March 26.

Be a part of this award-winning program that has been attended by more than 130,000 children throughout Orange County since 1997. Learn more and register by visiting the Festival website.

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Out in the Community 

As part of its standard to forge and maintain long-term, positive and proactive relationships with members of the local community and greater water industry and to be transparent about its operations and programs, OCWD board members and staff speak regularly before groups and at events.  We recently participated in the following: 

•  OCWD Research Director Megan Plumlee participated at the MIT Water Summit as a panelist on the topic of implementing innovative solutions.

•  Chief Hydrogeologist Roy Herndon provided an overview of the Orange County Groundwater Basin hydrogeology, seawater intrusion, and groundwater quality protection to an environmental engineering class at UC Irvine.

•  Senior Communications Specialists Diane Pinnick and Crystal Nettles delivered three sessions of hands-on groundwater basin and water filtration activities and presentations to students at Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana.

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OCWD in the News

OCWD continues to be recognized for its leadership in the water industry.  Below are a few of the District’s recent media highlights that feature OCWD and the GWRS:

NBC2: Orange County Water District Wins 2018 Best in Blue Award

Fullerton Observer: EPA on Fullerton Water Supply Protection and Clean-Up by Matthew Leslie

California Water News Daily: Orange County Water District Receives Environmental Education Award

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OCWD Employees

OCWD’s employees are its most valuable resources. It is committed to recruiting the best and enriching their lives to grow within the water industry and the District family.

New Hires


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Upcoming Events

Jan. 4: 7:30 a.m. Water Advisory Committee of Orange County (WACO) Meeting (Boardroom)

Jan. 9: 8:00 a.m. Water Issues Committee Meeting (Boardroom)

Jan. 10: Administration/Finance Committee Meeting (C-2)

Jan. 14: GWRS Steering Committee (Boardroom)

Jan. 16: 5:30 p.m. Board of Directors Meeting (Boardroom)

Jan. 25: noon Property Management Committee Meeting (C-2)

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November Tours 

Thank you to the more than 560 guests who toured OCWD’s facilities in November. They included students from Irvine Valley College, Cal State Fullerton, Citrus College, Cal State Long Beach School of Nursing, Mt. San Antonio College, Golden West College, Redondo Beach Union High School, the GOALS Academy, Chapman University Water Policy Class, Fullerton Union High School, UC Irvine Sustainability Class; members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Public Health, the California Water Environment Association, Monterey One Water, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Orange County Health Department, Desalitech, Casan Water Company, Hydranautics; the Ministry of Denmark; two Korean and a Spanish Delegation; guests of Trojan Technologies; and members of the monthly public tour.

Public tours of the Groundwater Replenishment System are offered at 10 a.m. on the first Friday of every month; reservations are required. Tours may be scheduled for other days of the week, depending on staff availability. To schedule a tour, request more information or schedule a speaker, please visit

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